Worse and Worser

Dear Readers,

The English language is both exciting and perplexing. On the one hand, it is pleasant to speak; on the other hand, it can be a challenge to learn. One of the reasons for this is the amount of ‘exceptions’ it includes. It seems as if every rule has several exceptions. Two words, comparative and superlative, are examples of the pleasure in learning the English language. Comparative adjectives compare the difference between two objects they modify, for example, large-larger. Superlative adjectives describe objects at the lower and higher limits of a quality, for example, small-smallest, tall-tallest, patient- less patient, most patient.

The senior citizens of our society have always had their views on the proper use of the English language. My father used to say. “We are going from worse to worser,” whenever he was referring to the deteriorating state of affairs. This was his way of explaining how bad things had become over time.

This is the exact phrase that came to mind when I saw the video last week, of the young lady who was being sexually harassed by several males, as she was taunted, mocked and ridiculed. The question is, what could have given those males the thought that this behavior was alright? A day following this footage, I saw four males being brought before the Dade County court for a similar act perpetrated upon an incapacitated girl, on prom night. What moral fortitude must one lack, in order to commit such an atrocity? HAVE WE LOST IT, or are we truly getting WORSE and WORSER.

Let me first advise the grownups among us, especially the parents, that children are not born with a conscience, they learn the skill of empathy. Children, however, are born with the propensity to be molded into anything we want them to be. The assigned guardians (parents, caretakers), have a responsibility to ensure that each child is equipped with morals, values, empathy, compassion and respect, along with life/survival skills and an appreciation for striving and acquiring the appropriate knowledge, needed to survive.

This may sound overwhelming, but skills are constructed like building blocks every time we teach boundaries, self-respect, administer discipline and hold our children accountable for their actions. Charity certainly begins in the home, but it does not end there. Persons in the school, church and community settings must equally hold our children to these standards. In fact, if personnel in the aforementioned environments observe that our children are devoid of these skills, it is incumbent upon them to assist such children in acquiring the same. Taking the neighborly approach to ensure our children are healthy and wise, serves to assist the entire society, in the long run.

The commission is to train up the children, meaning, as each child is growing and developing from the moment he/she enters the world, every attention paid should be deliberate, meaningful and lifelong. This training becomes the foundation upon which everything else is built. The key is in ‘training’ the child.

This is not to suggest that the child through a strong will of his own, along with other entities like social influence, peer pressure, desiring to be and feel accepted, the pressure of the group voice or some alternative training, would not deviate from the instructed path; but with the deviation comes the “conscience” that has been instilled, that pricks him in remembering the rules that he had been taught along the way. The problem occurs, when there is no point of reference from which to draw, because rules had never been taught. What is even more troubling about this situation is parents can’t impart skills to their children, of which they have no familiarity.

The other day, I overheard my eight year old niece telling my daughter, that during a dress up day in school, a friend of hers inquired of her why she was wearing a singlet under her blouse, assuring her that she did not need the extra garment, as the blouse looked better without it. I quickly turned to my niece and inquired of her how she handled the situation. My niece looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “I told her that I was wearing a singlet under my blouse because my mother told me that I should wear one, because if I raise my hand (she began motioning to her arm), you would see my under arm hair, and I know that is private.” I gave my brother a quick wink and assured him that he and his wife are doing the correct things in molding their children. I turned to the corner and wept joyfully.
Dr. Pam
Point to Ponder: Each well trained child positively affects the successive generation. Askdoctorpam is an advice column that is featured every week in this journal. Your letters and comments are encouraged. You may email your letters or comments to askdoctorpam@yahoo.com, or write to Askdoctorpam P.O. Box F43736. Dr. Pam is a Clinical Psychologist trained in all areas of mental health.

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